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Reading Genesis after Darwin$
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Stephen C. Barton and David Wilkinson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195383355

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195383355.001.0001

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Genesis before Darwin

Genesis before Darwin

Why Scripture Needed Liberating from Science

(p.23) 2 Genesis before Darwin
Reading Genesis after Darwin

Francis Watson

Oxford University Press

It is commonly assumed that "Darwin" represents the triumph of scientific rationality over scripture and superstition—an assumption combining ignorance of history with a philosophically naïve account of "truth." Before the seventeenth century, it was widely accepted that biblical interpretation and natural philosophy should each articulate the truth about the world in its own way, without the unnatural conflation or harmonizing of their respective stories into a single framework. The harmonistic model arose in the context of geological investigation, which initially appealed to the Genesis creation and flood narratives to interpret the fossil record and later sought to adapt the scriptural narratives to the modern geological discovery that the world is much older than previously thought. In all of this, scriptural narrative is removed from its natural habitat and forced to serve interests quite alien to it. The significance of Darwin is that, in developing his distinctive biological theories, he did not seek to coordinate them with scripture—thereby liberating scripture from science, and science from its own misuse of scripture.

Keywords:   Genesis, truth claims, Calvin, geology, natural theology, William Buckland, harmonizing, Darwinism, survival of the fittest

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